Africa, Travel diary

First steps in Africa

first steps in Africa - dancer with a backpack - burkina faso

Here I am stepping out of the plane in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Even after several hours of travel, I still can’t believe it.

Burkina Faso is my first stop of my year of traveling. I chose this destination to discover Africa. This is a small country with over 19 millions of habitants which 70% is still leaving outside of the cities. The official language is French, that will help me communicate with the population, however, a big part of Burkina people doesn’t speak French. They are speaking local languages, there are a lot of them and even more declinations of them.

I have 3 months to explore it while I am volunteering in school, orphanage, and village. This is the only part of my travel that is all set, this is the complete unknown for me.

So what did I fell stepping for the first time in Africa?

Well, I’m welcome by Marina with a big smile saying « bonne arrivée » that literally means « good arrival ». I can already guess that they are speaking French but not exactly the same than me.

After a few minutes in Marina’s home, they make me feel that I’m an old friend even if I never saw them before. Africa feels welcoming.

I have this feeling not only with my host ut with all the people that I’m meeting. You check a lot of hands, ask how the people are. Everyone is the uncle or the aunt of someone, Africa looks like a really big family.

After only a few days I really fell good here, I know that I’m only seeing the good and happy faces of this country but still. I haven’t seen one white people even if I am in the capital. Burkina Faso doesn’t seem at all a mass tourism destination. That’s exactly what I was looking for!

Africa is a completely different world, the rules are different, I feel like a child discovering how to act in society. It is sometimes funny, interesting but also sometimes shocking and painful. You realize even more the chance that you had to grow up in a country like France.

To conclude this introduction to my African journey, here are some fun facts for a French woman in Burkina Faso :

  • Forget hot water there is only cold water and some time no shower, you have to use a bucket to clean yourself
  • The money is the Franc like the old money in France
  • I’m being called Nassara by all the kids, it means white people in Mooré
  • Impossible to go out without being noticed, everyone is looking at you especially when you go out of the city
  • You drink water in plastic bags, you just remove one of the edges with your teeth and drink directly at the bag
  • My Decathlon hiking sandals look pretty here (in France we call these more ugly sandals…)


first steps in Africa - dancer with a backpack - burkina faso

first steps in Africa - dancer with a backpack - burkina faso

first steps in Africa - dancer with a backpack - burkina faso